Tuesday 25th October 2016                 Change text size:

Brazil faces crops loss due to climate change and unsustainable farming practices

Neil Palmer (CIAT) via Flickr

Brazil should prepare for a future heating of 3-6C and more unpredictable weather, which could severely affect its position as one of the world’s largest exporters of food.

Scientists from the Brazilian Panel on Climate Change (PBMC) have predicted that the South American nation might experience a significant increase in average temperatures, change in rainfall patterns and spread of pests and disease due to global changes in climate by 2100.

The report says that other Latin American countries are likely to experience similar warming. Tornados and similar extreme weather events might happen more often, rainfall will be more frequent in the South, while diminishing by 40% in the Amazon region.

Climate change would also affect the Cerrado, the savannah region where most of cereals and crops are cultivated.

However, scientists have expressed concerns as farmers and governments have showed little interest in changing farming practice from intensive monocultures to a mixed agricultural system.

Eduardo Assad, PBMC researcher said, “We must act now to avoid a worsening situation. The knowledge to do all this already exists, but we need stronger government guidance”.

He added that farmers must be encouraged to diversify their cultivations to adapt to climate change, rotate crops, reduce pesticides and stop the expansion towards the Amazon.

We must increase productivity in the mid-west, south-east and south to avoid the destruction of the Amazon. The reorganisation of Brazil’s rural space is urgent”, Assad said.

Failing to take adequate steps to adapt to climate change might result in a significant drop in crops and food production.

Since 2000, we have seen a fall in productivity in some regions, principally in coffee, soy and maize,” Assad said.

A recent study has found that the global warming trend is causing pests and disease to spread in areas where these were previously unable to survive, globally threatening future food reserves.

Further reading:

Global warming is causing crop pests to spread

Sustainable agriculture can help tackle climate challenges

Farming chief says extreme weather threatens UK agriculture

UK farmers at risk of water shortages by 2020, says climate watchdog

Are crop yield trends on track to meet future demand?

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